If you’ve ever wanted to be a part of the Peanuts gang from the comics section of the newspaper, you’re not the only one. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, and friends have been stealing the hearts of children and adults alike since they made their debut in over seven newspapers throughout the nation on October 2, 1950. Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, was only twenty-seven at the time. A few years shy of twenty-seven myself, I remain intrigued by all of their misadventures. And “good grief,” let’s be honest; we always laugh when Charlie Brown misses the football.
Thanks to my dad and the Sunday funnies, I had the privilege of being raised on these Peanuts classics. My life has been immersed with a Snoopy lamp, Charlie Brown Christmas trees, Charlie Brown Christmas lights, a plush Woodstock, and, naturally, all of the Charlie Brown cartoons. Every year, my family and I gather around the TV and allow the holiday joy in A Charlie Brown Christmas to infuse our household and our spirits. This 30-minute special episode—originally aired in 1965 on the CBS network—takes viewers on a journey through Bethlehem, teaching them that Christmas isn’t about Santa Claus at all, rather about Jesus and how He came into the world to be our Savior. Charlie Brown learns the importance of this, and his dreary discontent turns into peace.
My dad, especially, takes his love for the treasured animated short to a whole other level with the companion soundtrack. Not to mention, he happily applies the Linus and Lucy jingle to his ringtone year-round. Because of my devotion to Peanuts, I was highly inspired to research the creator. This led me to some interesting factoids that I think all Charlie Brown-lovers will appreciate!
Some of the first series of comics by Charles M. Schulz included Li’l Folks in St. Paul Pioneer Press and one-panel cartoons that appeared weekly in The Saturday Evening Post. According to the Charles Schulz Museum, “These early published cartoons focused on concise drawings of precocious children with large heads who interacted with words and actions well beyond their years.” During that time, his skills were being sharpened for the national market. That is when the four-panel comic Peanuts was born.
One of the reasons that Peanuts has continued to find major popularity is its relatable nature. Schulz created these characters with human error in mind, sharing more of their personalities and backgrounds as time went which gave readers more glimpses of humanity and ingenuity in their lives. This prone-to-err mentality Schulz let shine through his work, especially through poor Charlie Brown, wasn’t an accident by any means.
In fact, Steve Burgess of Salon Magazine pulled out a 1963 quote from the illustrator himself which answers the question millions of fans have been asking for years: Why can’t Charlie Brown catch a break? “Once you accept Jesus, it doesn’t mean that all your problems are automatically solved,” Schulz explained. Steve Burgess is an unlikely source for such a comment, but it speaks to how wide and strong of a reach Schulz had through his work.
Remembering and honoring him, his daughter, Amy Johnson, even stated at his funeral, “[He] knew from where his talent came.” A reflection of his beliefs was constantly being sewn into the fabric of his Peanuts comic strips, one of which finds Charlie Brown and Linus in the pouring rain.
“It rains on the just and the unjust,” Charlie Brown concludes. His wisdom, uncoincidentally, comes from Matthew 5:45b in the Bible: “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Even after his death on February 12, 2012, Charles Schulz’s whimsy, faith, and intelligence continue to impress upon the hearts of family, friends, and fans. He never could have guessed that his passion to be a cartoonist would reap this much success and leave such an immense impact on the world. His passion for art is very much alive in a museum dedicated solely to his life, numerous books, movies (The Peanuts Movie, 2015), and TV programs that grace our homes. Though A Charlie Brown Christmas is a prominent holiday favorite, other holiday favorites include It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
Gather your loved ones and enjoy the sentimental Christmas cartoon on the ABC network both December 6th and December 20th, 8p ET.
Feature Image by Luka Lojk